A thing that gets lost in the design of video games by those who aren’t a part of the process is that it’s just that, a process. It rarely ever forms in the first few stages, and often takes several iterations before it becomes something truly workable. Even the best developers and publishers have to work out what works and what doesn’t before going to full-on development for it. Nintendo proved this in spades at GDC when they talked about early concepts for the Splatoon franchise.
For those who don’t know about the franchise, Splatoon is Nintendo’s family-friendly first-person shooter series. In it, you play as Squidlings who can fire ink from various blasters in order to ink turf and splat their rivals. However, at GDC, these very basic things were revealed to not be set in early versions. A prototype for the game was only developed after half a year of back-and-forth about ideas.
What’s more, the original main characters for the game weren’t the Squidlings, but rather, rabbits.
So, why didn’t the rabbits stick around? Well, after settling upon the game being a shooter, and one where using ink to cover turf was the core mechanic, the question became…why would rabbits use ink? It didn’t make sense. So, they started thinking of other interpretations of the ink, and the idea of swimming through it to get up and across things came about, and through that came the idea of the Squidlings.
Once the Squidlings were decided upon, they went through several concept iterations before finally settling on the versions we all know and love now.
As you can see, there was a lot of changes made to make the Splatoon franchise what it is now. So next time you wonder how much work went into making a game, remember this.